Spousal support, or alimony, is money paid by one spouse to the other to help them meet their needs or to compensate them for sacrificing their own career or financial well-being during the relationship. Not everyone leaving a relationship is entitled to receive spousal support and many factors are involved including, but not limited to, whether or not there are any children, how long the parties lived together, the present financial circumstances of the spouses and the amount of property to be divided between the parties.
Spousal support is available for spouses who were married and also those who were in common-law relationships. Before someone can receive spousal support they must show that they are entitled to receive it. Very short-term relationships with no children may not result in any spousal support entitlement but shorter relationships with children may result in entitlement to spousal support. Typically a spouse who stayed home with the children and sacrificed educational or career advancement as a result will be entitled to receive spousal support. Each case however is different and therefore every case must be assessed individually.
The amount of spousal support to be paid is now often determined by reference to the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. These guidelines are not law but are frequently used by courts to determine the amount of spousal support. The guidelines produce a range of numbers for any given relationship and the location within the range depends on many other factors. Someone who receives a large matrimonial property settlement may receive spousal support at the lower end of the range, while someone who is over 50 and has been unemployed for a long time may receive spousal support at the higher end.
The length of time that spousal support will be paid is also an issue. Where there are no children, the range is between one half year for every year of the relationship and one full year for every year for the relationship. Where there are children, the range may be the length of time it takes the youngest child to enter primary school and the length of time it takes the youngest child to finish high school. The range of time is however also dependent on the circumstances of the parties.
Spousal support is therefore an area of law that is filled with discretion. Quite often this results in negotiated settlements. Therefore, legal advice in this area is highly recommended. The family law lawyers at a Crossroads Law are all highly knowledgeable in this area and can be booked for consultations.
Read more from our resources section on Spousal Support.